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Physicians want to learn how Canada provides universal coverage while spending half of what the U.S. does on health care.
WASHINGTON – This weekend, American physicians Claudia Fegan, M.D., and Richard Bruno, M.D., M.P.H, will join Sen. Bernie Sanders on a fact-finding delegation to Toronto, Canada. On Saturday, the delegation will tour three Canadian hospitals and speak with Canadian health care providers and patients. On Sunday, they will join Dr. Danielle Martin at the University of Toronto for a public event.
By exploring the Canadian system, the doctors hope to learn how a single-payer health system contributes to quality, access, equity, and cost efficiency. Canada spends $4,569 per capita (10% of GDP) on health care, while the U.S. spends $9,086 per capita (17% of GDP). Despite drastically lower health care spending, Canada provides its citizens with universal coverage. Canada also enjoys lower infant mortality and lower rates of deaths that could have been prevented with timely and effective health care.
“As a doctor who cares for uninsured patients, I’m especially curious to see how Canadians get their health care,” said Dr. Richard Bruno, a family physician based in Baltimore, Md. “The data suggests that Canadians enjoy better benefits and health outcomes for less money. How do they do it and how can we do it even better?
Dr. Claudia Fegan, a Chicago-based internist and chief medical officer for the Cook County Health and Hospital System and John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, wants to learn how doctors practice medicine without having to deal with a fractured, profit-based health care system. “A majority of American doctors now support a single-payer health program,” says Dr. Fegan. “We can look to the experience of other nations to figure out how to get there.” She notes that 54% of American doctors say that time spent on administrative issues related to insurance or claims is a major problem, versus 20% of Canadian doctors.
Drs. Bruno and Fegan are both board members of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and educational organization of more than 21,000 doctors and health professionals who support a single-payer national health program.
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